Dear Salvation Army, Is Your Mercy Seat Broken?

Recently in our corps something happened.
No, it wasn’t another rousing chorus of “O Boundless Salvation”.  It wasn’t another meal around the table, although those are rather nice.
Instead, there in the sanctuary of our corps, in the place where lives are changed and hearts transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, in that very room…something was damaged – The Mercy Seat.

It happened because some corps kids were playing through out the building…scratch that.  It happened because not “some” kids, but MY kids happened to be playing in the corps building (Why is it always the Officer’s Kids?  Really??).   They ended up in the sanctuary.  Perhaps the lure of the microphones and musical instruments were too much.  Regardless of how they ended up there, they were there.  In the process of scaling the mercy seat, my eldest’s foot got caught on the lip of the seat and tripped.  As he tripped, the mercy seat came with him.  He tipped it over completely, and with it the top was pried off.

Upon inspection of the mercy seat, I quickly realized that it was not going to go back together without a little help from a hammer and some new nails.  Currently, repairs are underway.

It’s a Metaphor…mercy seat2
It dawned on me last night while laying in bed, and it all began with a broken mercy seat.  Perhaps in our corps we have lost what the mercy seat used to represent.  Perhaps, it is broken today and in need of repairs.

Question: Is your mercy seat broken?
I don’t mean physically, but emotionally, tangibly, spiritually, is it still intact?
Does your corps still call people to penitence, repentance and reconciliation?
Or have we gotten away from holding each other accountable for fear of offending others?  I don’t mean “accountability” in the sense of judgmental attitudes and condescending “I’m better than you” behavior, I mean is that standard and call to the mercy seat still available to all who would seek it?  Is there an invitation to it?
mercy seat
My Fear:
I fear that we as an Army have gotten away from it in some places.  If your corps still introduces people to Christ through the mercy seat, I applaud you.  The mercy seat in and of itself isn’t magical.  It isn’t really even about how nice it looks or how old it might be in your building.  What matters is the emphasis of repentance, reconciliation, and holiness.  The mercy seat could represent more than just that piece of furniture in our chapels…but do we emphasize it anymore?  There are times when I wonder if, in the next ten years, will it still be a part of our Army’s identity?  Will we have discarded it as some ancient Army relic of times gone by?

Is your Mercy Seat Broken? Mom 1
Perhaps it has gathered dust from lack of use.
Perhaps it needs some revitalization and fixing today.
Perhaps, in order to revive this Army, we ought to seek it out…but more importantly we ought to seek out the power behind our faith.

I believe the Holy Spirit isn’t finished with us yet.
I believe that He longs for us to linger upon that mercy seat as we reconcile ourselves to Him once more.
I believe that in order for us to possibly regain our passion and fire for the world, we have to go back to it and start once more upon our knees.

I fear that if we do not repair these broken mercy seats, our Army will soon follow that same fate as well.

-Something more for our Army world to ponder today.
To God be The Glory!

(Cover image: Mercy Seat at Exeter Temple, UK)

32 thoughts on “Dear Salvation Army, Is Your Mercy Seat Broken?

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    1. This is something that should be read, considered, and made a priority (in my humble opinion) by all Salvation Army officers. Thanks for another insightful blog entry!

  1. I had a conversation with my Corps Officer about this very deep concern I have regarding our Mercy Seat. I thank you for writing this article. Oh that God would bring us to our knees, in repentance, the search of holiness and to be fervent prayer warriors for our families, our church and our world.

  2. Amen We all need that mercy seat . even the Church that don,t have one a chair will serve just has well That is what we use in church hear in Henryetta OK God Bless

  3. You are 100% correct my dear friend. If we lived and proclaimed the gospel as if we knew that Christ was returning tomorrow the church would be much different. He may……… If we had the unction that Christ wants us have and see souls lost for eternity in hell the church would be much different. “If my people who are called by my name, humble themselves, depart from their wicked ways and pray then I will heal their land” Sadly, the Salvation Army, is concerned with pats on the back and compromise. I am soldier and am very concerned. I know we live in the days of apostacy and must be disciplined and stand firm.

  4. I think your concerns maybe correct but these thoughts also apply, sadly to the whole church in Australia. It is time for us all to stand up and call people to repentance, and change the country that we live in. This can only be done from the inside out. As part of the protestant church these days, my SA roots yearn for the preaching that brings people to a realisation of their sins and the whole grace of God in His forgiveness that is freely given and the call to stand up and be counted. (By the way its not always the preacher’s kids that break things.).

  5. Thanks for this John,

    I enjoyed your piece, and like all good Carpenters you know exactly where to put the meterphorical hooks in that pesky Mercy Seat to catch people as they pass by. I don’t suppose that it really matters where we meet each other, the Mercy Seat is OK. We have worked together even though we. hav’nt met on that Seat. Far more important that we find our Lord. And there will be other Christians there too. Perhaps we could be really innovative in Shepton Mallet and call ourselves Christians Together?

    Paul Massey

  6. I thank the Lord because our Mercy Seat is used every service in our little church in Pilley’s Island.

    I read you loud and clear in this article. For some reason it has become to modern to use a Mercy Seat. I have attended many churches in the US and Canada. I find there is to much attention payed to the clock then there is on God. What happened to our after services. One song after the message, in a lot of churches, and you’re out the door. I can only imagine what would happen if God only gave us the little attention that we gives Him. Leaders pushing to make churches have only one service a Sunday. Terrible is what my thought is. What is happening in ministry and in our Christian churches. I think we are starting to take Christ out of them. It’s all about us and not about God. And that is soooo sad!!! Have a great day everyone and God Bless, guide and direct.

  7. Revelation 22:19King James Version (KJV)

    And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

    That is what William Booth did,taking away from the word of God.He said water baptism was not needed for Salvation.Study your church history,and read for yourself.When it comes to the Mercy Seat,i wonder if you can support the Mercy seat with scripture.Not one person wS EVER CALLED TO A mercy sEAT IN THE bIBLE TO RECEIVE jESUS Christ.Thank-you.




  8. Salvation Army does not practice water baptism. In The History of the Salvation Army we read that ‘at first the Christian Mission had adopted the usages of the churches to which its earliest leaders were accustomed, notably outward baptism (christening) and outward communion (the Lord’s supper), and these were continued until – after full and prayerful consideration – the General [William Booth] decided to abandon them, through earnest conviction that there was no scriptural warrant for the view that these observances were essential to salvation or were to be perpetuated’ (R. Sandall, The History of the Salvation Army, London, 1950, Vol. 2, page 130). That’s why the members of the Salvation Army do not practice water baptism.

  9. The Toronto War Cry for August, 1959, lists eight reasons why the Salvation Army
    abandoned the ordinances: “In discarding the use of sacraments the Army Founder was
    led to do so for the following reasons: 1. There was no uniformity of practice. 2. There
    was great argument and conflict between religious denominations. 3. The bitterness
    engendered was harmful to the interests of the kingdom. 4. A large proportion of Church
    members gave no outward sign of an inward change, although they placed great
    importance upon the observance of the sacraments. 5. There was no scriptural warrant for
    the way the sacraments were observed. 6. They were not necessary to salvation or
    spiritual progress. 7. Some forms were positively harmful to the Army type of converts. 8.
    Salvation by the blood of the Lamb and regeneration by the holy spirit were the essentials.
    The only baptism enjoined in the New Testament was the baptism of the holy spirit.” Please don’t take my word,look it up for yourself!

  10. Just Right – I received this not an hour after discussing with our officer attitudes towards the Mercy seat Thank you – not just a place but a spiritual experience.

  11. Times spent at the SA mercy seat as a young person reminds me that there caring adults who showed me the way to a life filled for Jesus. On to offership and leading others..Now that I am a senior citizen I find it quite painful to kneel anywhere but recently our church leaders were led by the spirit to pray with me and lay hands on my in prayer the night before my cancer surgery. I Loved the mercy seat but I do know the posture is not the most important…Now we hardly ever hear of any kind of commitment time at the close of a service..That is indeed disheartening to me and I am sure it is to the Lord Himself..God bless us all..Not only The Salvation Army but all congregations within the Christian communities..

  12. I thank God because where I come from,
    the mercy still got its huge importance and value ..we go there to pray,confess and meet with God

  13. I would like to say that the non use of the old Mercy Seat is not just caused by our leaders. It is up to all of us to be there meeting with God. As for myself, as I have been heard to say many times “how can we stay in our seats as we do after the message has gone forward”. I believe many time God is speaking to us but we somehow just stay in our seats when indeed we should be at that old Mercy Seat pleading with God for ourselves as well as standing in the gap on behalf of others.

  14. I believe an invitation should be given, for people to kneel or stand by the mercy seat, at every meeting. This gives opportunity for those who need the act of commitment to seal the dedication to the Lord, to do so.

  15. I love the mercy but sometimes I feel of you go out to often people think she, s out again or if it, s in the morning meeting people are in too much of a hurry to get home for lunch.

  16. “The church has always felt it necessary to have something of this kind to answer this very purpose. In the days of the apostles,
    baptism answered this purpose. The gospel was preached to the people, and then all those who were willing to be on the side of Christ,
    were called out to be baptized. It held the place that the anxious seat does now as a public manifestation of their determination to be

  17. Luke 7:30

    (But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)Many today like the Pharisees and the Laweyers,reject the purpose of God for themselves ,by not beening baptized in water baptism. notably outward baptism (christening) and outward communion (the Lord’s supper), and these were continued until – after full and prayerful consideration – the General [William Booth] decided to abandon them, through earnest conviction that there was no scriptural warrant for the view that these observances were essential to salvation or were to be perpetuated’ (R. Sandall, The History of the Salvation Army, London, 1950, Vol. 2, page 130).( MY DEAR PEOPLE<THERE IS SOMEONE GREATER THAN WILLIAM BOOTH HERE).Who is Willian Booth to take away from the word of God,General [William Booth] decided to abandon them, through earnest conviction that there was no scriptural warrant for the view that these observances were essential to salvation or were to be perpetuated’ (R. Sandall, The History of the Salvation Army, London, 1950, Vol. 2,

  18. The subject of “Water Baptism” has long been called a great issue, and no doubt has been made such by many church leaders of the past and present. In our study of it, let us first consider its importance, or the necessity’ of being baptized.

    Water baptism is an ordinance instituted by Jesus Christ. If it is not important in the plan of God, why did Jesus command it in Matthew 28:19? And why did Peter follow up by saying “every one of you,” in Acts 2:38 and by commanding them to be baptized in Acts 10:48? There are two things that we should remember: First – Whatever Christ definitely established or ordained cannot be unimportant whether we understand its importance or not. Second – Christ and the Apostles showed the importance of this ordinance by observing it, Jesus walked seventy miles to be baptized though He was without sin, saying, “For thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Read Matthew 3:3-16.

    One may say that water does not contain any virtue, but remember that it is included in God’s Plan of Salvation. Peter explains it by saying, “…baptism doth also now save us (not by putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” I Peter 3:21. In Luke 7:30 we find that the Pharisees and Lawyers “rejected the counsel of God against themselves being not baptized.”

    What then is the mode of baptism? Baptism is by immersion according to the Scriptures. “And Jesus when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water.” Matthew 3:16. “.. .And they went down both into the water, both Phillip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.” Acts 8:38. “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death…” Romans 6:4. “Buried with him in baptism…” Colossians 2:12. A burial is not placing a corpse on top of the ground and sprinkling a little soil on it, but it is placing it in the ground.

    From the World Book Encyclopedia, Volume One, Page 651 we quote, “At first all baptism was complete immersion.” And in the Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume Two, Page 263, we find, “In the early centuries, all were baptized by immersion in streams, pools, and baptisteries.” Immersion was not convenient after the Roman Catholic Church instituted infant baptism; the mode was changed to sprinkling. (See Britanica Encyclopedia, Eleventh Edition, Volume Three. Pages 265-266.)

  19. The angel of the Lord, in speaking to Joseph, said, “And thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins”. Matthew 1:21. And in John 5:43 we find, “I am come in my Father’s Name, and ye receive me not; if another shall come in his own name” (the antichrist) “him ye will receive.” John 14:26 says, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the father will send in my name will teach you all things.” Here we see another baptism instituted, the baptism of the Holy Ghost. According to St. John 3:5, a man must be born of the water and of the spirit. As Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, Jesus told him the only way to be born. Nicodemus did not understand as many of our leaders don’t understand in this day and time, the plan of Salvation.

    16:15-17 “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;” this had not happened, but in the book of Acts 2:4, we see the scripture in the book of Mark being fill-filled. “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

    So we see two very important things that work together. The baptism in Jesus’ Name removes sins, and the Holy Ghost sealing a man until redemption. Both are of the utmost importance, yet one necessitates the other. It is stated in the verses found in Luke 24:45-47 that Jesus opened the disciples’ understanding. It was necessary that their understanding be opened, and many today need this same operation that they may understand the scriptures. Then said Jesus unto them, “Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.” The disciples had their understanding opened so that they could grasp the vast importance of the facts concerning the death of Christ. Then in verse 47, we find the commission given in the words of the apostles telling what Jesus said “And the repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations” (Jews and Gentile), “beginning at Jerusalem.”

  20. Let us see what happened to Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, when he went to Ephesus twenty-one years after Pentecost. There hefound some of John’s disciples and “he said unto them, Have you received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, we have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 19:1-5. We do not believe that Paul changed the formula or mode of baptism when he baptized Lydia and her household. Acts 16:14-15. We have the account of the Philippians jailer in Acts 16:30, where he came trembling and fell down before Paul and Silas, saying, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved and thy house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.” How can we doubt that Paul baptized these using the same mode and formula that he had used before, that is, by immersion in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Manuel of Salvation:Lession 11,page 51.I quote The sacraments D.Baptism.”Paul did not practice water baptism in his ministry as a rule saying:”Christ did not send me to baptize (with water),but to preach the Gospel’.Baptism is mentioned in the Great Commission,It is apparent that Paul recognized the baptism mentioned in the great Commission at Matt 28:19,20,to be baptized with the Holy Spirit.On Quote.The Salvation claims the Apostle Paul did not practice water baptism in his Ministry.The above scripture proves the Salvation Army wrong,The Apostles did practice water baptism in his Ministry.Who is right the word of God or the Salvation Army.

  21. Unfortunately the mercy seat for me was not a place of sanctuary, neither was the corp I grew up in. I loved the Army and as a child and young adult I took part in all the groups including the songsters, until the evening I showed up to practice with my ears pierced…. I was told by the office that I had to take them out or I could never sit on the platform or wear my uniform again, My worst sin was 2 little holes in my ears and my church treated it as if I had brought the devil to their door. I did not, I was a good Christian girl who loved her church but lost her faith based on man made rules. I walked away that night and never went back. Many years later I attended a funeral and saw a female officer giving her sermon with her lovely gold earrings and her make up on. Maybe the army should reflect on the numbers dwelling and corps closing and ask themselves did they play apart? As for my generation there were many forced out over such silly man made rules most did not go back, nor bring there kids and for my age group their grandchildren. So maybe the first ones to kneel at the mercy seat should be the leaders and ask God to forgive them for driving the faithful away, maybe that is why the mercy seat is broken……

  22. God Bless you,Geri. I no what you are talking about.The leaders should be the first to ask God to forgive themfor driving the faithful away.If you don’t drag ths Salvation Army line,you will soon be put through the door.I no this only to well also.They left the word of God out of context to suite themselves.Keep pressing on Geri,Always remember that Jesus Loves,so very much.God Bless.

  23. Day of Pentecost, 33 AD. The Apostle Peter introduces the New Covenant
    teaching on water baptism (Ac 2:38). In Apostolic teaching water baptism in
    the name of Jesus Christ was and is central to salvation. This is because the
    Apostles taught their converts that water baptism in Jesus Name is where the
    blood of Jesus Christ is first applied to a convert. It is the application of
    the blood in the water that applied all seven functions of the blood to the
    convert that resulted in the state of salvation for the convert.

    Also in Apostolic teaching water baptism had to be done by submersion down
    into the water. Pouring on, sprinkling, and infant baptism was never taught
    by the Apostles.

    In Mt 16:18-19 the Word of God tells us the Apostle Peter was given the keys
    to the kingdom of heaven and how he expressed these keys was forever bound
    and loosed in heaven and earth. This indicates any change of any kind to the
    requirements of Repentance, Water Baptism by Submersion, and the exclusive
    use of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in water baptism will result in a
    change to the keys of Peter and will not be accepted as the one pathway to
    salvation and heaven.

    150 AD Justin Martyr makes the first change in Apostolic teaching on water
    baptism. While he keeps Apostolic teaching on repentance, the blood, and
    submersion, he changes the words used in the ceremony and he lays the
    foundation for the development of the soon coming trinity formula of water

    190 AD-200 AD Origen and Tertullian develop the first two trinity doctrines
    and then develop the trinity formula of water baptism. Like Justin Martyr,
    Origen and Tertullian keep Apostolic teaching on the repentance, the blood,
    and submersion, but they no longer use the name of Jesus Christ in the
    application of water baptism to the convert.

    220 AD Origen begins teaching the doctrine of infant baptism because of the
    perceived doctrine of original sin at his pre-baptismal school in Alexandria

    325 AD Under Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicaea the holy trinity
    and the trinity formula of water baptism are declared official doctrine of
    the empire and the Roman Catholic Church.

    416 AD Infant baptism becomes universal teaching of the Roman Catholic

    During the dark ages and mediaeval times the Roman Catholic Church adopts to
    additional forms of water baptism. These are pouring water on and sprinkling.
    In their church writings they acknowledge these changes came via tradition
    and there is no Bible foundation for these changes. In the Greek Orthodox
    churches of the East these two new forms of water baptism are rejected as
    false doctrine.

    With the coming of the reformation movement and Martin Luther, water baptism
    is declared to have no saving quality and is only an outward sign of an
    inward faith. This is due to the fact that the Reformers believed the blood
    was applied at confession and not in water baptism. In looking at the formula
    of water baptism Luther decided to use the Western trinity and formula of
    water baptism which the majority of Protestant churches still use today

  24. God didn’t give us a message we can adapt, modify, change or add to! it is not our purpose to take the Bible and tamper with it, deny parts of it, or handle it to suit our tastes or the demands of popular culture.This is what happened.General [William Booth] decided to abandon them,(communion and the Lord’s supper), through earnest conviction that there was no scriptural warrant for the view that these observances were essential to salvation or were to be perpetuated’ (R. Sandall, The History of the Salvation Army, London, 1950, Vol. 2,

  25. HERESIES are those doctrines and practices which are contrary to the Bible. They are also called “human traditions” or “doctrines of men”. Both Peter and Paul predicted and warned that in the later times “false teachers” would rise within the Church and bring in “damnable heresies” and “doctrines of devils”. (Read 2nd Peter 2:1-3, and 1st Timothy 3:2-5). Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, for they transgressed the commandments of God by keeping their traditions. “in vain,” He said, “they worship me by keeping for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:3,9). The General [William Booth] decided to abandon them, through earnest conviction that there was no scriptural warrant for the view that these observances were essential to salvation or were to be perpetuated’ (R. Sandall, The History of the Salvation Army, London, 1950, Vol. 2, page 130)

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